Don Schumacher on Nitromethane
By Darr Hawthorne
Are you importing Nitromethane?
DS: At this point I have imported Nitromethane from China along with Jim
MacMonagle and John Warren from Worldwide Racing Fuels. We are currently
distributing it to the Nostalgia guys and many of the teams, not the Pro
teams out here on the NHRA national meets. The only Nitromethane you can
use at an NHRA national or divisional meet is Nitromethane manufactured by
Dow/Angus and WEGO. We are working on the situation and we'll see what
the long-term decision is.
DRO: What is the name of this company?
DS: Pro Nitro.
DRO: Was there a need for another supplier of Nitromethane?
DS: I believe that's something that people
have different opinions on. You have to be able
to compete on a worldwide basis with whatever
product you are manufacturing and selling ...
if there's a way to get it done cheaper by somebody
else in another country because of that country's
economy. That's the way it is in China; most
manufacturing has begun to be transferred either
to Mexico or China. It's actually
leaving Mexico and going to China. Well, it's
the same thing with Nitromethane and other chemicals
and things used throughout the whole United
States economy. I believe competition is good
and competition of suppliers of products in
this industry is better for the industry than
not having competition.
DRO: Was this a price issue?
DS: Oh definitely.
Last December VP Racing Fuels was given the
exclusive distributorship by both WEGO and Dow
to sell their Nitromethane at NHRA races, not
by NHRA, to sell their product. The price went
from $650 a drum that some of the teams were
paying; some teams were paying considerably
less than that, to $900 a drum. Also teams last
year were getting free drums of alcohol and
free solvents that we use in our wash tanks.
We now pay for the alcohol and pay for the solvents
and because of this Nitromethane that we brought
into the country, it has lowered the Nitro costs
here at the track to at least $850 a drum, so
it's had some effect even though we can't sell
it or use it out here. We'll see what the final
decision is in the future.
DRO: Will you be selling your product at IHRA races?
DS: Yes it will be distributed at IHRA, all of the Nostalgia races to the Nitro
Harley guys and all over the U.S. It's shocking how many e-mails and calls
we have received to supply Nitromethane to these other industries where
their price went up 30 percent to 60 percent. My personal cost of Nitromethane went up in excess of 60 percent going from what I was paying to $900 a drum. NHRA has allowed that the Nitro that I brought in is legal to test with. For my teams it costs somewhere between $20,000 to $25,000 per team for the races, not
testing on top of that you have to add the cost of solvents and alcohol. So
I'm looking at close to $100,000 additional expense, which translates to
additional costs to my sponsors, which ultimately may even translate to
higher ticket prices out here. It's hard to say the ramifications of this